EDGEWATER — Instead of attending prom at Auburn High School in Rockford, Emily Hurd played the role of French chef, dressing in costume and cooking a three-course meal for friends who decided to go.
“I talked in the best French accent I could, and I made them dinner,” said Emily Hurd, 32, who now hosts a supper club in her one-bedroom apartment in the 5500 block of North Magnolia Street in Edgewater.
Hurd has been running the club — which is open to the public — for a year-and-a-half.
“Anybody can come. I’ve never had to cut anybody off,” she said, adding that she’s fit 16 people in her place at one time.
Hurd said she felt the urge to cook for others at a very young age, even serving up her parents’ anniversary meal of linguini and clams when she was just 5.
“When I was at Northwestern, I would do this in the dorm using only the microwave,” she said. “Like, I was just always wanting this. Always like, ‘What can we do? Let’s bring people around the table.’”
The idea for the supper club started when Hurd, who attended culinary school at the International Institute of Culinary Arts, started cooking a “fancy meal” for herself once a month.
“I date myself. I sweep myself off my feet and I was making these amazing meals,” she said.
That led to emailing friends, and eventually, to a group that comes once a month to experience its own firsthand “fancy meal.”
“Do you want a sugar cube in your glögg?” Hurd asks a guest. “Because that’s traditional.”
That guest is Jordan LaSalle, one of the high school friends who was treated to Hurd’s homemade prom dinner.
LaSalle, 33, now lives down the street from the supper club.
“She said, ‘Listen, come to my house and it’s going to all be taken care of,’" LaSalle said. “She greeted us with a chef’s hat and a painted-on mustache and spoke in an accent the whole time.”
On Wednesday night’s menu, chestnuts were roasting. And freezing in ice cream, and swimming in soup.
“It’s a learning experience,” Hurd said of the supper club. “The reason why we’re doing chestnuts is 'cause I’ve never even touched a chestnut before.”
There is a $10 suggested donation for the three-course meal, which includes alcohol. Hurd donates extra money tossed on the table to a different charity each week.
Wednesday night’s donation will go to the nonprofit Great Lakes Nature Conservancy.
Hurd, who is also a musician, recently produced a music video that also routes money to the charity.
“I’ve been driving around for the past three weeks like an insano trying to get 100 musicians to donate their appearance for this,” she said.
The video, featuring an original song by Hurd, is currently Vimeo. Viewers can choose to “tip” the video, with half of the money going to the conservancy.
Those looking to get in on the supper club action can contact Hurd through her website.